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Card Counting Systems

New to Card counting? Start with our comprehensive “How to Count Cards” page!


How do Card Counting Systems Work?

Since Edward Thorp developed his initial card counting system, dozens of count strategies have been developed, with varying degrees of difficulty and effectiveness at keeping track of the high to low card ratio. Do you want a simple system that is less effective? How about a mind-boggling system that is more effective? But with every system, the concept is the same: by keeping a ratio of small cards to high cards, it gives the player a better indication of when the advantage shifts from the casino to the player. When the casino has the advantage, you bet less; when you have the advantage, you should bet more. It’s kinda like buying stocks low and selling high. On top of that, card count systems indicate when you should deviate from basic strategy.

We recommend, and teach, Hi-Lo. There’s a video of Why We Teach Hi-Lo below, but here is a comparison of the top card counting systems.

Card Counting Systems

Count Strategy ..2.. ..3.. ..4.. ..5.. ..6.. ..7.. ..8.. ..9.. ..T.. Ace .BC. .PE. .IC. Bal?


1 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 -1 -1 .97 .51 .76 Yes


1 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 -1 -1 .98 .55 .78 No

Hi-Opt I

0 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 -1 0 .88 .61 .85 Yes

Hi-Opt II

1 1 2 2 1 1 0 0 -2 0 .91 .67 .91 Yes


.5 1 1 1.5 1 .5 0 -.5 -1 -1 .99 .56 .72 Yes

Omega II

1 1 2 2 2 1 0 -1 -2 0 .92 .67 .85 Yes


1 1 2 2 2 1 0 0 -2 -1 .96 .63 .85 Yes



Betting Correlation (BC): How effective each card counting system is at predicting valuable betting situations. The higher, the better. Playing Efficiency (PE): How effective each strategy is at determining playing decisions (i.e. Deviations). The higher, the better. Insurance Correlation (IC): How effective the card counting strategy is at predicting when to buy insurance. Obviously, strategies that have a separate Ace side count are going to be better at determining when to buy insurance. But in our (humble) opinion, a side count strategy is not worth the effort. Put more time into playing more efficiently and acting less like a robotic card counter. Balanced (bal?): A balanced count begins and ends at zero. The alternative would be an unbalanced count (such as K-O), which has an imbalanced ratio of “low cards” to “high cards.” With an imbalanced count, you typically do not start at 0, but start at an “initial running count”, thus not needing to convert from a running count to a true count.

Why We Use the Hi-Lo Card Counting System:

Many people ask why we use Hi-Lo. Here’s a short video we made to explain. Feel free to disagree with us. =)

Further Reading:

Card Counting Systems   – If you really want to get into the nitty gritty, we recommend The Theory of Blackjack by Peter A. Griffin.